Every month, we project a new pose. By "project" I mean that we dive in deep and spend every Sunday 2-hour advanced practice on the same peak pose for the entire month. The project pose for August is Yoganidrasana. For most people, they either love this pose or hate it. The group last week was about 50/50. However, by the end of class most folks had made major progress.
Several months ago, I was having a conversation with my good friend, Sam Rice, about this pose. She wasn't a big fan of any pose that required a leg or both legs behind the head. But, after finding the actions needed to safely explore this pose and lots of practice, she slowly figured out some tools to help make these poses accesible. That's the thing, to make the impossible possible, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment. There are no quick fixes or instant gratification involved. Sam is a good example of all of that. Her input highly influenced the sequence below. We focused a ton on opening the outer hips, stretching the hammys and groins before attempting this pose.
Nidra, is defined as a state between sleeping and wakefulness. In Yoganidrasana, Mr. Iyengar says, “the legs form the Yogi’s pillow and the back is his couch.” This pose is the most intense forward fold you can do on your mat. Which means, its crucial that you come into supta tadasana with a neutral spine in between attempts. Recreating the 3 natural curves in your spine after a deep forward bend (or deep backbend) is important. Other wise, your low back will be very unhappy later. Another major piece of advice, keep your hamstrings engaged as you enter this pose. You can do that by isometrically kicking your heel away from your body. Most tweaks come from disengaged muscles. Even though you are going into a super bendy pose, you have to stay engaged to stay safe.
With about 1.5 hours of prep work, this pose is much more accessible than you might think. Give yourself a lot of time with this one. Make sure you have mastered eka pada sirsasana first. Yoganidrasana is a must if you want to learn some of the other advanced poses that come after this (supta kurmasana, dwi pada sirsasana, a transition into the deepest tittibasana of your life). Enjoy!
BKS Iyengar in Yoganidrasana
Open outer hips, groins & hamstrings
Surya B variations:
- Lunge w/forearms down
- Lunge with twist
- No hands lunge
Baddha hasta parsvakonasana (one arm inside front leg)
Utthita hasta padangusthasana
Parvrtta hasta padangusthasana
Svarga dvijasana - bird of paradise
Pigeon - front shin parallel
Supta hindolasana - leg straight
Lunge - head behind calf
Eka hasta bhujasana
Eka pada galavasana
Dwi hasta bujapindasana
Malasana - w/blanket
Supta Eka hasta Padasana
Eka pada sirsasana
Setu banda sarvangasana
Visvavajrasana -windshield wipers